In Case You Missed It Monday: The Fight For Fair Rent Town Hall

03 Jun In Case You Missed It Monday: The Fight For Fair Rent Town Hall

Los Angeles is currently facing a severe homelessness crisis, with over 75,000 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given night. This crisis is exacerbated by rising rents and housing costs, threatening even more people with homelessness. In response to these challenges, the Fight for Fair Rents campaign has emerged as a grassroots effort to ensure housing affordability in Los Angeles. The campaign advocates for a 3% annual limit on rent increases to protect tenants from excessive hikes.

This past Saturday, a coalition of more than 200 housing advocates, tenants, residents, and youth gathered at Community Coalition to share their experiences regarding exorbitant rents and the need for city leaders to enact a rent stabilization ordinance. 

The struggle for fair housing in Los Angeles has been marked by longstanding challenges, particularly impacting Black and Latine residents disproportionately. Structural inequalities, including gentrification, eviction practices, and homelessness, are fueled by corporate greed, racism, and ineffective urban development policies. The lack of affordable housing options perpetuates poverty, poor health outcomes, and despair within communities.

The demographics of homelessness in California highlight a concerning trend, with a significant increase in homelessness among individuals aged 55 and over. Seniors experiencing homelessness face early onset health issues, leading to premature deaths and increased healthcare costs. The economic burden is substantial, with many individuals reporting meager incomes before finding themselves on the streets.

Los Angeles renters, who make up a significant portion of the population, are burdened by high housing costs, with over half of renters paying 30% or more of their income towards rent. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the housing crisis, leading to increased evictions and rent debt among low-income renters.

To address these challenges, the city must update the current rent stabilization ordinance to protect tenants better, prevent displacement, and balance landlords’ needs. Advocates propose a new formula that limits annual rent increases to 3% or 60% of the change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. This formula ensures fair returns for landlords while safeguarding tenants from unmanageable rent hikes.

Several cities in California have already adopted similar rent increase formulas to protect renters. Los Angeles must prioritize housing affordability to prevent further homelessness and displacement. By implementing the proposed formula, Los Angeles can stabilize tenants, protect vulnerable populations, and maintain a fair balance between landlords and renters. On hand to hear residents were Councilmember Heather Hutt (CD10), City Council President-Elect Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD8), and representatives from Councilmembers Imelda Padilla (CD6), Nithya Raman (CD4) and Hugo Soto-Martinez (CD13).

The Fight for Fair Rents campaign underscores the urgent need for policy changes to address Los Angeles’ housing crisis. By enacting measures like the 3%/60% CPI formula, the city can take a significant step towards ensuring that all residents have access to safe, affordable housing, regardless of age, race, or economic status.


J’SUE BURKS –Photo by Eleanor Collins

J’Sue’s Story

By J’Sue Burks

My name is J’Sue Burks. I worked for 42 years for the County of Los Angeles. I paid my rent, bills and bought grocers with no extra money to enjoy myself and have a quality life. At some point, my health became so bad that I had to retire.  I couldn’t afford my medication. I had to do what I could to save money, including not using the electricity, taking cold showers, and not using the gas. I would unplug my fridge and sit in the dark because I couldn’t afford to live. This made me extremely depressed but my belief in God, and my daughters are what pushed me through. 

Then my rent went up $400. My landlord was using a new neighboring apartment building to justify the rent increase. I eventually had to move to Mississippi because the rent was more affordable. But I came back to Los Angeles because the culture and the people were racist. 

When I came back, I lived with my sister-friend until I could get my own place. But I soon found out that landlords want you to have three times the expensive rent to be approved and move in (fees). If I could even find a one-bedroom apartment for $1,500, I would have to make $4,500 a month! I am on a fixed income and may never be able to move into my own place because of these rent prices. 

This is my story and the story of so many other residents in LA because of the high rent prices. We are all at risk of being unhoused if something doesn’t change. 

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